Atomic Habits: Can they help you with your career goals?


It’s hard to imagine anything good coming from getting hit in the face with a baseball bat.

I’m sure high school sophomore, James Clear, wasn’t thinking, “Oh goody – this is going to result in a best-selling book,” when he was being life-flighted to the hospital.

In his compelling book, Atomic Habits, James tells the story of how this accident, which caused brain swelling and multiple facial fractures, ultimately led to his writing this book on habits.

After his injury, Clear wanted to return to baseball, but he mostly sat on the bench in high school. However, he was able to earn a spot on the team his freshman year at Denison college, albeit at the bottom of the roster.

This is when he decided if he was going to have any chance of starting on the team, he was going to have to change his habits.

He started doing the opposite of a lot of his peers. He went to bed early, kept his room neat and tidy, improved his study habits and created a weightlifting program.

These new habits started giving him a greater sense of control over his life and more confidence.

Long story short, six years after being hit in the face with a baseball bat, he was selected as top male athlete at Denison and named to the ESPN Academic All-American Team. He was also awarded the President’s Medal.

Even more than these accomplishments, what caught my attention is what Clear writes after recounting his accolades,

“I hope you’ll forgive me if [I sound boastful]. To be honest, there was nothing legendary or historic about my athletic career. I never ended up playing professionally. However, looking back on those years, I believe I accomplished something just as rare:

I fulfilled my potential. And I believe the concepts in this book can help you fulfill your potential as well.”

This is so key.

There is not much else that burns like the regret of not fulfilling our potential. We may be very accomplished, but there can still be an area of our life where we aren’t manifesting our potential, such as:

  • Our potential to truly enjoy our work and make an impact
  • Our potential to create something new and be an entrepreneur
  • Our potential to be in a loving relationship that really works
  • Our potential to be financially independent, or
  • Or our potential to be our best self.

We may have the goal of fulfilling our potential, but despite our best efforts, our goal remains out of reach.

In his book, Clear tells us that we do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems. In Atomic Habits, we learn how to create a system with habits that becomes the foundation of making changes that move the needle.

Clear states, “Habits are the compounded interest of change.”

I love this! It’s such a powerful statement.

He also encourages his readers to be patient and work on getting 1% better every day.

We don’t have to change overnight. Nor should we try.

One of the most powerful concepts, in my opinion, is this idea of identity-based habits.

Clear writes, “Many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve. This leads to outcome-based habits (such as losing 10 pounds). The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, we start by focusing on who we wish to become (such as a healthy, fit person).”

One of the many reasons I like this approach is that when we’re trying to make changes, such as find a better job or have a more fulfilling career, we don’t have to wait for the what (outcome) to start seeing positive changes. If we focus on who we need to be in order to have a better job, career, or relationship, we can start to reap the benefits now.

We start to reap the benefits now by the small changes we make that help us move towards our goals.

When we commit to a constructive habit, no matter how small, our confidence and self-respect increase. We start becoming that version of ourselves capable of reaching an out-of-reach goal.

I could go on and on about this book, but have a look for yourself if you’re wanting a better system and habits for reaching your goals.

I’d love to hear what kind of habits and systems you adopt and what starts working for you!

Be back soon,


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The coaching I have had with you has been life changing."

You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

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I met Heather at the SEAK conference. She and I revisited this question.  Did I want to quit being medicine completely? She helped me to identify my needs, wants, and my vision for my FUTURE, not just in medicine, but in life!!!

She was able to listen to my "ramblings" about becoming a stand-up comic, lounge singer and voice-over actor and translate them into action steps.  I chose to become a composite of all of these. Now I am a more confident, healthier, happier person. I credit this in its entirety to the tutelage I have received and continue to receive from Heather.  She cares. She listens. She was there for ME.  She will be there for YOU!

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Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

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What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth... wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

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She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

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After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

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Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

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By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

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When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

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I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

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